Modern Cyprus is an independent island country, and member of the European Union, which lies only 65 miles (105 kilometers) from the Syrian coast. It comprises a total land area of roughly 3,572 square miles (9,251 square kilometers). It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (behind Sicily and Sardinia) and hosts a population of more than one million.
It is roughly 148 miles (238 kilometers) from Cyprus' farthest eastern to western point. Anciently, it came under the control of the Roman Empire in 58 B.C.
Cyprus is possibly referred to in the King James Bible Old Testament as "Chittim" (Numbers 24:24, Isaiah 23:1, Jeremiah 2:10). The island is also referenced in Scripture as a place where early Christians lived (Acts 11:19 - 20, 21:16) and whose residents were some of the first to discuss the gospel with Gentiles (Acts 11:20 - 21).
Accompanied by Barnabas (who lived on the Mediterranean island - Acts 4:36) and John Mark, the apostle Paul visits the island at the start of his first missionary journey in 44 A.D. Their journey begins at the port city of Salamis (Acts 13:5).
Salamis, at the time of the New Testament, had a large Jewish population that maintained several synagogues. This plethora of gathering places becomes the focal point of the team's evangelistic efforts. After preaching in Salamis, they continue their efforts as they travel westward. They finally reach the port city of Paphos, which, in the mythology of the Greeks, was considered one of the birthplaces of the pagan goddess of love and beauty named Aphrodite and of the pagan god Adonis.
In Paphos, the team is invited to meet with Sergius Paulus, the Roman Proconsul of Cyprus. Accompanying Sergius to the meeting is a sorcerer (someone who practices black magic) named Bar-jesus (Elymas in the KJV). Bar-jesus, in the hope of stopping Sergius from becoming a Christian, strongly opposes the gospel message during the meeting. His tactics, however, backfire. Paul, fed up with his resistance to the truth, miraculously causes him to become blind. This act astonishes the Proconsul and leads to his conversion (Acts 13:6 - 12).
As an interesting side note, the Biblical transition between referring to Saul as Paul occurs during his confrontation with Bar-jesus.
Barnabas and Mark revisit the Mediterranean island of Cyprus in late 49 A.D. after an argument separates them from Paul (Acts 15:36 - 39). According to Parsons Bible Atlas, one tradition states that Barnabas was stoned to death in Salamis during the reign of Nero.